Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ding Darling NWR

Thursday, March 30, 2006
I could not resist photographing this tricolored heron in high breeding plumage.

Today was our program at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and things went surprisingly well, despite a few AV problems. We were the last lecture in the seasonal series sponsored by The Ding Darling Wildlife Society. The series runs from mid-January through end of March each year and the lectures are free and open to the public.

If you've never been to Ding Darling NWR, well you are missing out. It's one of the must-visit places for birders worldwide because its a huge tract of preserved mangrove swamp which attracts all kinds of birds and wildlife. The birds at Ding are famously acclimated to people so this is a great place for bird photography and to work on your shorebird ID skills. The five-mile wildlife drive can be enjoyed on foot, on a guided-tour tram, on bikes, on roller blades!, or in your own car. We zipped around the drive in the morning before our talk, enjoying excellent looks at reddish egrets, tricolored herons, and a couple of large flocks of shorebirds.
A mixed flock of resting shorebirds. We saw almost no shorebirds in breeding plumage today.

During our talk we performed some music, just to change things up a bit. Julie and I played and sang "Side of the Road" by Lucinda Williams, "Winter's Come and Gone" by Gillian Welch, and "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowbirds," with apologies to Willie Nelson. the last tune was done as a singalong, and several people in the audience, we think, need to audition for American Idol next year.
After the talk we signed books for an hour (fun!) chatted with Lise Bryant, the refuge bookstore manager, and split for our hotel and a siesta.

Later this evening we met Don and Lillian Stokes for dinner at a posh local restaurant. The conversation was both varied and interesting ranging from dogs to birds of Sanibel, to the book biz, TV shows, and land conservation easements. Mostly we exchanged info about our hobbies of blogging and photography. You can read their post about our program on their blog. And while you are there, check out Lillian's photos of flying pileated woodpeckers--lots of white in those wings!

All in all a good day. Tomorrow we enter the mangroves in search of mangrove cuckoo before heading for the airport.


On March 31, 2006 at 9:19 AM Rondeau Ric said...

After your woodcock pics you had cemented your position as the best birder/worst bird photographer I knew.
Now you’ve gone and posted good photos. What’s a poor Canuk to think?

On March 31, 2006 at 12:20 PM birdchaser said...

Too bad you were down in FL this week, rather than last week when I was down there and could have stopped by!

On March 31, 2006 at 6:05 PM LauraHinNJ said...

Are you not going to identify those shorebirds for us?